The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST or Webb) launched in December 2021 and has been conducting science observations since July 2022, stunning the world with its gorgeous images and revolutionary data. But on Jan. 15, JWST's Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) instrument "experienced a communications delay within the instrument, causing its flight software to time out," according to a Jan. 24 statement (opens in new tab) from NASA. NIRISS can't currently be used for science, the statement noted.
"There is no indication of any danger to the hardware, and the observatory and other instruments are all in good health," NASA officials wrote. "The affected science observations will be rescheduled."
NIRISS is a contribution from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), so NASA and CSA personnel are collaborating to troubleshoot the issue, the statement notes.
Under normal conditions, NIRISS can operate in four different modes (opens in new tab) , according to NASA. It can operate as a camera when JWST's other instruments are occupied, it can analyze light signatures to study the atmospheres of small exoplanets, it can conduct high-contrast imaging, and it has a mode tailored to finding distant galaxies.